Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

Water scarcity is becoming a significant challenge for people in southeastern Kenya, including the 1,500 community members of Kilia, who rely on the Kaiti River for their water. Still, since most of the rivers in this region are seasonal, they only contain water for a limited time period.

Since there is a desire to be the first to collect water to allow time to accomplish other daily tasks, most people in Kilia start their days very early, so they don't have to wait in long lines due to overcrowding. But the journey for some can take up to two hours. Understandably, it is exhausting to walk that far and even more so to make the return trip with full water containers. The only other option is a sand dam and well in a neighboring community, but the trek to collect water from there extends even farther.

"I do not like the idea of being sent or accompanying my mother to the river all the time after I come back from school, as it is hectic at times because of the distance," said nine-year-old Ndinda N. shown below walking with her mother after collecting water.

When the limited rainy season is over and water is scarce, community members collect water from scoop holes dug in the riverbed. The drier it gets, the deeper the holes must be to access water.

Fetching water here is a tiring and laborious task, but the worst part is that the water they collect after so much hard work is contaminated. The holes are wide open, with people and animals alike drinking from them. The risk of contracting water-related diseases such as bilharzia, typhoid, cholera, and amoeba is high.

Most community members rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. This region has fertile soil for growing crops, but farming activities do not thrive without sufficient water.

Farmer Benson Kawinzi, 63, shown below scooping water, said, "Water scarcity affects me in such a way that I can't do things I am supposed to do. I spend a lot of time searching for water instead of focusing on other developments."

The people of Kilia need a well, so they have accessible, clean water near their homes. Having this access will allow them to farm, increase their incomes and hopefully have time to explore other areas of development.

Reliable Water for Kilia

Our main entry point into this community has been the Kyeni Kya Kiia Nzou Self-Help Group, which comprises households working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.

Hand-Dug Well

This particular hand-dug well will be built adjacent to a sand dam project, which will supply clean drinking water once it rains. We have provided the group with the tools needed for excavation. With the guidance of our artisans and mechanics, the excavated well will be cased, sealed with a well pad, and then finished with a new AfriDev pump.

Excavation takes a month or more on average, depending on the nature of the rock beneath. Construction of the well lining and installation of the pump takes 12 days maximum. The well will be lined with a concrete wall including perforations so that once it rains, water will filter in from the sand dam.

This well will bring clean water closer to families.

New Knowledge

These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has significantly hindered reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Self-Help Group and other community members to teach essential hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community levels. This training will help to ensure that participants have the knowledge they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as the water is flowing.

One of the most important topics we plan to cover is handling, storage, and water treatment. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated when it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

The community and we firmly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher training during this period and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Project Updates

01/25/2023: Kilia Community Shallow Well Project Complete!

Kilia Community, Kenya now has a new water source thanks to your donation! We constructed a new hand-dug well adjacent to a new sand dam on the riverbed. The sand dam will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water, while the well will provide a safer method of drawing drinking water for the community.

It could take up to three years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity because sometimes it only rains once a year in this region! As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile, and the well will fill with water.

Beth at the new shallow well splashing water held in place by the sand dam.

"Access to water from this point will enable me and my family to keep away from diseases," said 70-year-old Beth Mutuku. "We shall also save on time wasted going to fetch water and work on our farms to become more productive."

"I have been thinking about farming for quite [a] long [time] now," Beth continued. "I know if you think about farming, think water first. That's why I had to be part of the community implementing water projects. Now that the dam is complete, I shall grow vegetables for household uses and for sale, too. I have a target of making Ksh 20,000 every month so as to boost my income security."

"I shall use the water in various activities such as irrigation and [the] keeping of acquatic animals," said 17-year-old Faith. "I hope to become self-reliant because of access to water. I shall attain food and income security."

Faith in front of the sand dam.

"Although [our community constructed] another sand dam, our challenge was the distance to get water from it," Faith continued. "Now, life has become a bit easier, and I am hoping to be very successful in terms of farming. The road [to the other sand dam] was rocky and hilly. Here, I shall enjoy clean water near me."

Hand-Dug Well Construction Process

Construction for this well was a success!

We delivered the experts, materials, and tools, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done, too. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand, stones, and water. When all the materials were ready, it was time to dig in!

First, we excavated a hole seven feet in diameter up to the recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells do not reach that depth due to hard rocks between 10-18 feet.) As planned, the diameter shrank to 5 feet when the well lining was complete. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through. When the well is finished, sand builds up around its walls, which will filter the rainwater stored behind the dam.

Once the lining reached ground level, we laid a precast concrete slab on top of the lining and joined it to the wall using mortar. The concrete dried for two weeks before installation. We fixed four bolts onto the slab during casting in preparation for the hand pump's installation.

Field officers explain the well's construction to The Water Project USA staff members Alex Taliaferro and Courtney Feild.

Next, the mechanics arrived to install the pump as community members watched, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves. We installed the pump level with the top of the sand dam. As the dam matures, sand will build up to the top of the wall. Until then, people will use the concrete steps to get their water. After installing the pump, we gave the well another few days to let the joints dry entirely.

We worked with the Kyeni Kya Kiianzou Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed tremendous amounts of materials and physical labor.

New Knowledge

As we’ve worked with this Self-Helf Group in the past, we conferred with them about the subjects they most needed refresher training on.

We trained the group on various skills, including bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soap- and detergent-making and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

We also touched on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements.

The most valuable topic during this training session was disease transmission, where our trainers helped community members identify households still lacking in necessary hygiene and sanitation features like latrines and dish racks to keep food and utensils off the ground.

"Under this topic, each member was required to give an input on [the] disease transmission routes discussion [as well as] when and how to implement the action plan, so no one is left behind," said trainer Christine.

People also enjoyed the refresher training on soap-making since it meant everyone could take home a bottle of soap after the training. While the soap was stirred, community members tried to recall bible verses from memory to pass the time.

Looking Ahead

The new water source will make everyday tasks so much easier. This group has already started to bring their dreams of agricultural greatness to fruition by starting a tree nursery. Once these trees mature, they can be planted. These will, in turn, encourage a healthier ecosystem with more frequent rainfall — a sign of hope and restoration for the people of Kilia.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. When an issue arises concerning the sand dam, the group members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure it works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

12/08/2022: Kilia Community Hand-Dug Well Construction Underway!

Dirty water is making people in Kilia community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with news of success!

Project Photos

Project Type

Dug Well and Hand Pump

Hand-dug wells are best suited for clay, sand, gravel and mixed soil ground formations. A large diameter well is dug by hand, and then lined with either bricks or concrete to prevent contamination and collapse of the well. Once a water table is hit, the well is capped and a hand-pump is installed – creating a complete and enclosed water system.


Project Sponsor - Lifeplus Foundation
Project Sponsor - Lifeplus Foundation
10 individual donor(s)